image
Top, Edith Samuel Maclin looks at the article she wrote for the Jewish Standard in 1988.

Veterans Day holds special significance for Edith Samuel Maclin, 82, of Paramus.

That’s been true of every Veterans Day since 1938.

On November 11 that year, Maclin, her parents and siblings entered New York Harbor aboard the SS Washington. They had fled Germany just before the chilling events of Kristallnacht.

The family – mother, father, four sisters and a brother – found them themselves in a modest apartment in Washington Heights, embarking on a challenging life in a new country they soon learned to love. Today, much of that original family is gone, but Ms. Macklin now has three children, 10 grandchildren – eight of whom live in Israel – and two great-grandchildren.

Although she was 7 in 1938 and Veterans Day was called Armistice Day, the importance of the moment was not lost on her, either then or now.

“It is always very much on my mind and very meaningful for me,” she said. “I’m a staunch American.”

Ms. Maclin used to mount the Stars and Stripes in a special display. But now she must content herself with two modest flags, one embedded in a plant and the other in the storm door. To her, overt patriotic expressions are relevant and meaningful.

“We got our citizenship as soon as possible,” she said, indicating that was a direct reflection of her family’s priorities.

Ms. Maclin’s brother, who died in 1985, served in the Army during World War II. She met her husband, Ernest, when both were engineering students at City College. He took leave while he was stationed in the Air Force in Japan to come home and propose to her. She followed him back.

Ernest Maclin died in 2006, just after the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary. “He was the love of my life and the loss of my life,” Edith Maclin said.

The Maclins had three children, Alan Maclin, 55, of Chicago, a lawyer and consultant who divides his time between the United States and Israel where his wife, Lisa, lives; Deborah Maclin, 52, of Massachusetts; and Julie Nuciforo, 49, who lives in Park Ridge with her husband, James, and their children.

Ms. Maclin’s father died in 1962, always expressing gratitude to his adopted country, even though his years here were difficult as he worked as a dishwasher at a Manhattan restaurant. Her mother, Gabriele, who cleaned homes to supplement the family income, died in 1995, and a sister died in 2001.

Two sisters remain from the family whose flight from the Nazis Maclin poignantly described in an article for the Jewish Standard on November 11, 1988. She is proud of the years she spent raising her children, and of her second career as a math teacher.

Ms. Maclin is a member of the Jewish Community Center of Paramus/Congregation Beth Tikvah. The irony in the closeness of Veterans Day and the anniversary of Kristallnacht has never been lost on her.